Yesterday, the Associated Press announced that, for the sake of making its reporting more “precise and accurate” and to avoid “labeling people,” it would no longer employ the term “illegal immigrant” to describe individuals who, er, immigrate illegally to the United States. In response, the folks at Twitchy have a darn good question: if the AP “doesn’t wish to label people,” then “will they stop accepting the use of fetus?”
Granted, “fetus,” “embryo,” and “zygote” aren’t inaccurate terms, but neither is “illegal immigrant.” And while hearing the latter doesn’t lead anyone to believe that people who jump the border somehow aren’t human, the former are part of a pervasive campaign to do exactly that to unborn babies, who objectively are human beings. But “fetus” and the like obfuscate this fact, instead cultivating the impression that unborn children are some kind of inhuman objects or growths.
If the goal really were to describe everyone as correctly and fairly as possible (and not, say, scrubbing language to serve liberals’ interests), then the AP would have to extend the same consideration to the unborn, so as not to obscure the fact that the abortion debate is about a procedure that destroys human beings. How about “embryonic human” or “fetal person”? Or we could just keep it simple: “unborn baby.” All three options would be clearer and more precise.
In fact, abortion discussions are rife with far worse offenders than “fetus.” Can you get more dehumanizing than describing a dead unborn baby as simply “tissue” or the “products of conception”?
Then there’s the classic “termination of pregnancy” and its variations. For one thing, to talk of abortion as merely “terminating” or “ending” something is less precise than stating how it brings about that end: by applying lethal force – in short, by “killing.” We don’t describe most people’s deaths primarily through euphemism, yet somehow, I doubt that’ll make it into the next AP Stylebook revision.
For another, the state of being pregnant is “terminated” whenever a woman gives birth, miscarries, or aborts. If we had the technology to transplant fetuses to artificial wombs, that would also “terminate pregnancies.” But 99 times out of 100, “termination of pregnancy” means only one of those: when the baby itself is terminated. (Say, there’s another area where our language could use a tune-up: isn’t it generally verboten to refer to others as “it” rather than “he,” “she,” “him,” or “her”?)
Perhaps worst of all is when the baby is directly referred to as the “pregnancy,” which is an affront to the English language as well as human dignity. Obviously, pregnancy is the condition of carrying a developing child; it is not the child being carried. So why do abortionists and their allies routinely speak of “removing the pregnancy,” the “size of a pregnancy,” “injecting into the pregnancy,” etc.? Must even basic literacy yield to the interests of pro-choice propaganda efforts?
In a word, yes. Don’t expect the AP or the mainstream media to incorporate any of the above into their abortion reporting, because the real agenda is making sure the wrong language serves the right agendas. When there are politics to consider, accuracy is an afterthought.